20 years of research into family businesses: new WIFU study!

As part of celebrating its 20th anniversary, WIFU presented its anniversary publication “20 years of WIFU – 20 years of research into family businesses in Germany”. In addition to a review of the past years, the jubilee letter includes a WIFU study on the current status of family businesses in Germany. In autumn 2017, members from more than 200 family businesses and entrepreneurial families from all sectors, sizes and generations were asked what they are currently up to and what questions they are looking for answers from research – including WIFU. The aim of the study is to promote the research of specific topics regarded by WIFU and family businesses as current and highly relevant and to initiate new fields of research. According to this study, family-owned companies are dealing with succession issues, but above all with recruiting and the long-term commitment of good junior staff and executives.

From the content:

  • The issues currently preoccupying family entrepreneurs in relation to their businesses are strategic, non-operational issues. The study participants are primarily interested in aspects of effective business management.
  • Key themes here include HR (especially attracting and retaining qualified new staff) (41%) and developing operational successors (36%).
  • Respondents are equally preoccupied by the key trend of digitalisation, both on a personal level (26%) and in relation to other open questions, which research institutions are expected to provide answers to (23%).
  • When it comes to the family behind the family business, the most important issues for the respondents relate to succession dynamics (60%), family governance (50%) and the interface between family and business (30%).
  • Issues on upbringing are particularly important in this context. The respondents assign this issue greater relevance in relation to research than in their personal everyday experience as a business family.
  • Inheritance tax and general tax law are definitely the most important legal issues on property.
  • Respondents hope to see a significant input from academic research in the area of legal policy; however, they are currently relatively unconcerned by this topic in relation to themselves.
  • Family businesses are fully prepared to make a contribution to the research they demand. 90 percent of respondents indicate that they are willing to play an active role, particularly by taking part in studies (82%) and interviews (64%).

The study is available in our download section.